Kalkutungu (Kalkadoon) Country

Northwest Queensland’s rodeo and cattle industry was built upon the foundations laid by the Kalkutungu people across the rugged and ancient country of the Mount Isa region. Since the early 1900s, when forced removal and displacement of Indigenous people began, local cattle stations became places where many Kalkutungu families were placed.

During these times of segregation and loss of culture, Kalkutungu men and women were forced into poorly paid and often unpaid work on these stations. However, despite the immense loss of identity felt by the Kalkutungu people, a passion for station work was formed, and the legacy of Indigenous stockmen and women in the northwest was created. The Kalkutungu presence within northwest Queensland’s rodeo and cattle industry continues to grow to this day, with many descendants of the original Kalkutungu stockmen and women now running local stations and competing on the rodeo circuit.

Alongside the need to continue legacies within the rodeo and cattle industries, the need to continue the legacy of Kalkutungu culture stands just as prominent. During the Stolen Generations, many other Kalkutungu were sent to Aboriginal missions off-country, most commonly Palm Island and Yarrabah. Despite being forcibly removed from their country, the Kalkutungu fought hard to continue their culture and would go on to earn the name ‘Sundowners’ by others during their time on Palm Island due to their connections being to the west where the sun would set.

Today, the legacy of the Kalkutungu people and the original Sundowners is carried on through the revival of Kalkutungu culture through dance and language. The Sundowners Kalkutungu dancers pay homage to their namesakes by actively continuing the fight of their ancestors, preserving and sharing Kalkutungu culture, which many had given their lives to protect.